A Whole New World: How NGOs are Successfully Using Social Media

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Courtesy of Google

It seems as though every NGO out there – old & new – has one social media account or other which they use to reach people and spread their message. Most are on Facebook because, well….Facebook. Some may use Twitter or Instagram but I’m willing to hedge a bet that none of you reading this are looking on Insta for your favorite Nonprofit. The ones who do utilize social media to its utmost potential are those with a good social media strategy. Hence why fundraising with social media has become so popular and has helped hundreds of orgs succeed in achieving their funding goals. Just look at the success of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in 2014, which literally swept across the globe and even had celebrities participating on all social media platforms.

How do NGOs do it?

  1. They tell their stories through photos: most NGOs, non-profits & the like use social media to tell the story of their org through photos. The popular Instagram account called “Humans of New York” has had much success in raising funds for projects & awareness about global issues through photo-essays — essentially, they post a photo with a story + info below it on Insta and everyone (including the Whitehouse) gets involved because it’s easy to stay connected this way. And it’s pretty smart.
  2. Schedules: One thing you learn in the “Developing a Social Media Strategy” course in Algonquin’s Social Media Cert. program is the importance of a content strategy – included in that is how you prioritise and schedule content. NGO’s aren’t likely to have all day to spend trolling their social media platforms and posting updates every minute, so they schedule the info & messages they want to put out there. This is why services offered by the likes of Hootsuite are so popular and why Facebook allowing scheduled posts is so handy. When you don’t have time, you have to have a crafty but effective content strategy & schedule.
  3. They know their stuff: NGO’s do not blindly walk into social media – and if they do, they quickly learn from their mistakes. So they become educated on stats, patterns and most of all they measure and monitor how their messages are received. That’s important, considering most of us learn about causes and orgs on social media.
  4. Awareness Days/Events: Just like the ALS Ice Bucket challenge, orgs and non-profits tap into the power of awareness days/events which allow them a period of time (whether one day, week, month, etc) to spam the world with their challenge or event. This is especially true of International Days like “International Tiger Day.”
  5. They look to youth: Hey, the best way to get a message out into cyber-space is to get a group of young people to Tweet the heck out of it or Instagram it. Considering children are the future, NGOs often have targeted demographics which speak directly to youth and encourage them to get involved in a cause (or causes).

Source: Best Social Media Practices

Most NGOs realize that people do not want to constantly be asked for money and no one is attracted to a social media post based on a request for hand-outs. Harsh? Yes. True? Yes. So NGOs go about it differently and opt for telling stories (as mentioned above) rather than immedietly or directly saying “We need your money, this is why you should give it to us.”

An interesting way of looking at it, is by looking at this infographic here. Essentially, income does not determine an NGO’s popularity or success in social media. The way they use social media does. The infographic deduces that it is an NGO’s approach to use social media in order to connect with people which is the key determining factor in how successful they are. Who knew NGOs could be so savvy?


You may be surprised to learn that the most successful NGOs gain profit due to the clever ways they use social media, and not simply because people automatically donate to an NGO based on an online or tv ad. In fact, many stats show that social media has a direct impact on how NGOs function and their overall success. Check out this link for stats about social media and its connection to cause awareness & fundraising. Whereas people used to go door-to-door seeking donations, now NGOs simply use social media to reach out to people and find larger audiences through which they can achieve their goals.

Not convinced? Here’s 12 examples of social media success stories with NGOs.






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